The anxiety of living in a country one-tenth the size of its louder, more boisterous, more outspoken neighbour was perhaps best expressed by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1969:
“Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt,” said the late Pierre Trudeau.
I have thought a lot about this expression over the past four years, through every international micro-crisis caused by an off-the-cuff remark in a speech or an early-morning barrage of tweets.
This surely does not compare to the lived experience of every American who was worried that their relatives would be unable to visit because of an executive order targeting their religious beliefs. It cannot compare to the experiences of every American who was worried that their marriage would be invalidated, or those who found themselves on the receiving end of epithets and discrimination by assholes who had newfound public champions for their hateful views. I cannot imagine the pain of living under an administration that celebrates cruelty and wilful stupidity — especially not this year, when those views have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands and have altered the lives of million.
I know that this era does not turn on a dime; that the problems of yesterday remain the problems of today. But this was not a symmetric decision of two slightly differing views. There will be countless benefits to leaving this administration behind, even as there will undoubtably be plenty of reasons to criticize the new one. But as a next door neighbour, it will be reassuring that, come January, I will not be worried that an errant tweet will trigger catastrophe.